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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Exploring Synchronicities - Part II

In my prior blog post, Exploring Synchronicities - Part I, I discussed the nature of synchronicities and gave a brief summary of Carl Gustav Jung's theory (Exploring Synchronicities - Part I.) I also discussed how Jung's ideas on synchronicities and the occult was a contributing factor to the rift between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud.


Carl Jung
Demystifying Synchronicities 
As I mentioned in the prior blog post, Jung's theory dominates the professional literature about synchronicities. However, there are other theories, which are psychodyamic explanations about the nature of synchronicities. One such theory is by Gibbs A. Williams, Ph.D. My intention today is to explore his concepts, which are detailed in his new book, Demystifying Meaningful Coincidences (Synchronicities) (2010).

I recently attended a professional talk with Dr. Williams in his West Village office, where he has been for the last 43 years. The talk was based on his research, which he writes about in his book. According to Dr. Williams, he has been exploring synchronicities for many years, including his own and his patients' synchronicities. Dr. Gibbs has recorded a fascinating collection of meaningful coincidences (or synchronicities) in his book.

Dr. Williams theory about synchronicities is in sharp contrast to Jung's concepts. As you may recall, Jung believed that when people have synchronicities, they are connecting to transcendent, spiritual experiences. Jung's theory is that synchronicities are connected to the collective unconscious and to spiritual archetypes. He also believed that these experiences could not be researched because they were acausal and unpredictable as to when they would occur. (For more on Carl Gustav Jung and his theories, go to the C.G. Jung Foundation in NYC website: (http://www.cgjungny.org).

Synchronicities as Naturalistic, Psychodynamic Experiences
Gibbs A. Williams' psychodynamic theory is that synchronistic experiences are not connected to any mystical or spiritual experiences, and they are not part of the collective unconscious. Dr. Williams' theory, as I understand it, is that synchronicities are naturalistic, psychodynamic, experiences. Rather than being part of the collective unconscious, synchronicities are part of the individuals' personal unconscious. As Dr. Williams explains it, these meaningful coincidences are a combination of 1) internal, creative processes and 2) an attunement with the environment. According to Dr. Willilams, the environment provides us with so much stimuli to choose from that, when we are having synchronistic experiences, we selectively attune to those that relate to our own internal creative process that we are undergoing at that point in time.

Synchronistic Experiences at "Stuck Points"
According to Dr. Williams, these synchronistic experiences tend to occur when people are either at emotional "stuck points" or impasses in their lives (the proverbial "fork in the road"), or if when these individuals are searchers or seekers of their own internal truth. He gave many interesting examples of his own and his patients' experiences with synchronicities. All of them are uncanny experiences. These and other experiences with meaningful coincidences are outlined in his book.

There are also other psychodynamic theories about synchronicities, including the theories of M.D. Faber in his seminal work, Synchronicity: C. G. Jung, Psychoanalysis and Religion. According to Faber, synchronicities are naturalistic, psychodynamic, regressive experiences. According to Dr. Wiliams, who takes Faber's concepts one step further, synchronicities are not only regressive experiences--they are also progressive experiences, providing opportunities for psychological synthesis and an internal cohesiveness for the individuals who have them.

Dr. Williams continues to do his research on synchronicities, and if you're interested in learning more about his theories or contributing your ideas and experiences, you can go to his website: http://www.gibbsonline.com.

Synchronistic Experiences and Intuitive Dreams
I've been interested in synchronicities for many years. My own experiences usually occur through intuitive dreams where I have a dream that something will occur and within a short time, it actually occurs. My experience has been that I tend to have synchronicities when I write down and focus on my dreams. Over the years, I've had many intuitive dreams, mostly about people in my life, but also about impersonal experiences. Some of them have been uncanny experiences.

The intuitive dream that stands out in my mind was when I had a dream that I was visiting a friend, L. We were standing in her living room, and she told me about a car accident that our mutual friend, R, was just in. When I woke up, I wrote down the dream, but I didn't think much of it since I had just seen both of my friends and they were both fine. However, about a week later, I was visiting L and we were standing in her living room in the same spot where we stood in the dream, and she told me that she had just heard that R was in a car accident. She described the accident in the same way that she described it in my dream. Fortunately, R was not seriously injured.

Needless to say, I was shocked. In the past, I had other synchronistic experiences, but nothing like this. For me, this was truly an uncanny, awe-inspiring, meaningful coincidence. L and I talked about my dream and how it related to what had just occurred. We both agreed that this was surprising. Neither of us had an explanation for it at the time.

As I explained to Dr. Williams when I met him, it seems that, as far as I can tell, my own experiences with synchronicities don't fall neatly into Jungian concepts or into Williams' or Faber's explanation of synchronicities. I didn't experience them as part of a collective unconscious or related to archetypes. They were neither regressive experiences nor did they occur during emotional impasses. You could say that they are intuitive experiences, but this doesn't seem to be the whole explanation. So, it seems that more research is needed.

On the day that I attended Dr. Williams' talk, one other psychoanalyst attended. Since there were only two of us, we had a chance to have a conversation with Dr. Williams about his experiences as well as our own synchronicities rather than it being a formal presentation.

There was also an interesting coincidence that day: The other psychoanalyst had an office in the same small West Village building where I have my own office; she has been there for about the same length of time as I have been there; we're both there on the same days and travel up to our offices on the only elevator in the building--and yet we've never seen each other before until we met at this talk about synchronicities.

If you're interested in exploring your own synchronicities, I recommend that you keep a journal with your dreams and synchronicities. Dr. Williams also recommends that you include the context of what is going on in your life at the time and compare your synchronicities to your life experiences to see how they might relate.

To find out more about synchronicities, you can explore the following resources:

Websites:
Gibbs A. Willilams, Ph.D. website: http://www.gibbsonline.com.

Carl G. Jung Foundation in NYC: (http://www.cgjungny.org

Books:
Memories, Dreams, and Reflections: Carl G. Jung

Man and His Symbols - Carl G. Jung

Demystifying Meaningful Coincidences (Synchronicities) Gibbs A. Williams, Ph.D.

Synchronicity: C.G. Jung, Psychoanalysis and Religion M.D. Faber

I am a NYC psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, hypnotherapist, Somatic Experiencing therapist, and EMDR therapist. I work with individuals and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

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